Goldstein On Rasslin’ – How Bray Wyatt Convinced Me To Follow The Buzzards
Probably the easiest thing in the life of a wrestling fan is our unique and seemingly innate ability to find the negative in just about anything we hear, read, or see regarding the RASSLIN’ business. Take me for instance: My first two columns for PWMania covered my lengthy list of wrestling pet peeves (link) and how I likened the launch of the WWE Network to the end of days. (link) So yes, I’m guilty of drinking The Big Show’s weight in “Hater-ade” too. Well, just like in the ring, it’s far more difficult to play the babyface but I’m going to give it the ol’ college try. So here now is my overly positive, gushing, effusive ode to my favorite thing in the pro RASSLIN’ business, right now: Bray Wyatt.
I wasn’t sold right out of the gate on the Wyatt Family. Their introductory vignettes looked cool enough – almost like they were emanating from the Yellow King’s summer home long before HBO introduced us to “True Detective” – but I had once before seen a team of young upstarts light developmental on fire in 2006 prompting management to spend thousands on slick, cinematic vignettes only for the team to show up on TV with an out-of-date, hokey presentation destining them for mid-card comedy act (I’ll give you a hint: Their name rhymed and was mildly racist. Answer at the bottom of the paragraph) So, needless to say I was skeptical especially after nothing the Wyatt’s did for their first six months on TV had any impact whatsoever. Sure they took out Kane, but we never got a reason why – at least not one that I cold decipher thru all of Bray’s nonsensical Riddler-speak and back woods jargon.
None of it meant anything to me – not their creepy ring entrance, the abrupt crashes to break, not even their glorious beards could seduce me into caring much at all. I even initially hated Bray’s “Sister Abigail” finish. To me it was too much of a “wrestling” move for someone who was supposed to be a depraved sociopath from the wrong side of the “Deliverance” porch. (I thought something like the Heart Punch better suited the gimmick) But then the show-stealing Royal Rumble match with Daniel Bryan happened and then two weeks later on RAW he hit that now-famous running “Sister Abigail” on Rey Mysterio and the whole Bray Wyatt thing started to click for me.
He wasn’t just some over-wrought product of the WWE creative machine with a cool ring entrance but ultimately destined for the same shipping crate that sent the Spirit Squad packing. No, no, no… to borrow a phrase from @JRsBBQ, there was steak behind his sizzle, so much so in fact, that I finally realized just what the hell Bray Wyatt was doing that was so special: He was single-handedly bringing back a tried and true, make and model of a professional wrestler – long left for dead – from the brink of extinction.
I guess it had been so long since I’d seen one like him that I forgot how much I missed the roly-poly powerhouse. From Dusty Rhodes to Adrian Adonis, to “Playboy” Buddy Rose… I realized that Bray was channeling all of them and their lost art of maximizing the athleticism they had hidden underneath all their girth. I even started having flashes of watching Eric Embry on ESPN after school, pour out of his red, white, and blue singlet while kicking the sh* t out of “Hollywood” John Tatum and Jack Victory in USWA … And it occurred to me, Wyatt is much more than just an army tank with a Ferrari engine, he’s much more than just Husky Harris re-packaged, he’s much more than a second generation stud getting that fresh-out-of-developmental push… More than all of that, Wyatt is re-igniting wrestling’s long-lost fat-skinny legacy, making it ok for fans to believe once again that not all tough guys, not all monsters have to have six-pack abs and Bradley Cooper faces. They can actually have a 72-ounce porterhouse steak behind their sizzle. (Answer: Cryme Tyme)
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About Andrew Goldstein: Andrew is a former WWE creative writer who is now a morning TV producer and comedy writer.